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Join the Big Read at the Library in April

If you gravitate toward the good storytellers at family gatherings, tune in to radio stories or simply love to read a good yarn, we’ve got a great month lined up for you at the library.

April is Big Read month, the annual “one book, one community” celebration to encourage reading through one shared book experience. This year we’re suggesting all ages read the multi-generational title, “A Long Way from Chicago,” by Richard Peck.

This “novel in stories” is about a boy and his sister who leave Chicago each summer in the 1930s to visit their mischievous grandmother in rural Illinois. It’s full of poignant twists and clever storytelling.

This year we’ve turned Big Read month into a kind of storytelling festival, playing off the nostalgia, culture and entertainment of the 30s.

We’re starting with your own stories. In March, more than 40 Ozarkers recorded short, personal recollections for us. Beginning April 2 and each Friday in April, we’ll post 10 new stories on the site Transcripts will be posted in April. Radio station and project partner KSMU will air a story each Friday.

More April highlights:

Experience a big-screen event as it was during “The Golden Age of  Hollywood” with retro snacks and the 1933 classic, “King Kong,” at 6:30 p.m. April 9.  

Learn about popular music of the Great Depression from Christopher Lair, Evangel University music instructor, at 2 p.m. April 11 at the Library Center.

Hear Ozarks storyteller and journalist Marideth Sisco, from KSMU’s “These Ozarks Hills,” at 4 or 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the Brentwood Branch Library.

Catch the big-tent event, the chautauqua (shaw-taw-qwa) April 22-26 at the Library Center. Big Smith member Mark Bilyeu will play the music of Woody Guthrie 7 p.m. April 22; actors/scholars will portray giants of the 30s – Henry Ford at 6:30 p.m. April 23; Franklin Roosevelt and Will Rogers at 6:30 p.m. April 24; and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson at 2 p.m. April 25. The guests will also conduct two workshops while they’re here.

Author Richard Peck caps the month with visits to the Library Center. April 29 is a 6 p.m., catered, fundraising reception and book signing, $25 for adults, $10 for ages 6-18. Tickets are on sale now at library branches.

Peck will tell us one more story for April, “From Grapes of Wrath to Grapes of Mirth,” at a free event and book signing at 7 p.m. April 30.  

There’s so much more during the Big Read. Pick up a catalog of events, Bookends, or read it online and join us for the fun.

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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